Lake Nicaragua, Large as an Ocean

Have you ever taken a look to a map of Nicaragua?. If you have, you probably can't help to notice that there is a hughe lake in the south-west part of the country. Well, this is Nicaragua Lake, and it is hughe indeed!. From one shore you can not see the other shore in the horizon, it looks more like an ocean, with waves, tides, archipelagos of islands, but the water is not salty, it is fresh water. Did you know that this is the 2nd largest lake in Latin America?. Only Lake Titikaka in Bolivia-Peru is larger.

There is something else you should know, as far as I know this lake is the only one in the world that has sharks............can you believe that?. Yes, sharks living in fresh water, not salty water like in the oceans.

The Nicaraguans brag about having their own private sea, and it is a jewel of nature. The beauties it possesses have surprised visitors who have come to know this lake.

If you ever travel Nicaragua, you have to visit Lake Nicaragua, it's not only hughe as I said, but it is beautiful as well, it is a very interesting travel destination. Let me give you some basic information that may be useful:

Facts and history
The lake is connected with the Caribbean Sea by the navigable San Juan River, historically making the lakeside city of Granada, Nicaragua an Atlantic port. The lake even had a history of Caribbean pirates. However, despite draining into the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean is near enough to be easily seen from the mountains on the lake's Island of Ometepe. Before construction of the Panama Canal, a stagecoach line connected the lake with the Pacific across the low hills of the narrow Isthmus of Rivas. Plans were made to take advantage of this route to build an interoceanic canal, the Nicaragua Canal, but the Panama Canal was built instead. In order to have competition with the Panama Canal, the U.S. secured all rights to a canal along this route in some kind of a Treaty back in 1916. However, the idea of another canal in Nicaragua still periodically resurfaces, you never know!

The Islets
Near to the Port of Granada one finds an archipelago of more than 350 islets, which form a true tropical paradise. In Puerto Asese, 3 Km from Granada one can rent a small boat to cruise among the Islets. It's a labyrinth in the exuberant vegetation. The majority of the Islets have one or several small houses, usually under the shade of large mango trees. You can linger in one of the numerous country restaurants on the isles to savor the guapote, a fish found in the Lake. You can also spend an afternoon at an island beach, swimming and tanning yourself.

Zapatera Island
This large island which can be seen from the Islets is almost uninhabited. On this island one finds pre-Colombian statues which are now exhibited in the museum of the Convent of Saint Francis of Granada.

Ometepe Island
This is one of the favorite touristic destinations in Nicaragua. It is almost 300 km2 large, and it has enormous potential for tourism. Ometepe has two volcanoes, one active, El Concepción (1610 m), and the other dormant, El Maderas (1394 m). The volcanic ash has made the soil of this island extremely fertile, allowing continuous planting without fallowing. The volcanoes are visible from everywhere on the island, and life on Ometepe revolves closely around them. They also play an important part in the myths and legends of the island, which once served as an Indian burial ground

In Ometepe, you can rent horses, bicycles, or cars. It has attractive beaches and a tropical jungle for people with adventurer spirits.

You can climb the Concepción volcano, if you're in good physical condition though. The effort of the climb will be rewarded by a spectacular view from the crater. The crater itself is quite impressive and cannot always be seen because about half the time clouds cover the volcano’s summit. You can find guides for the climb at the Castillo de Altagracia Lodge.

If you don't have the spirit for a climb to the top of Concepción, perhaps you'll find Maderas more to your liking. The climb is easier, and a thick tropical jungle rich in fauna covers this volcano. It has numerous monkeys, boas, jaguars etc... In the crater you will see the mysterious cold lagoon of Maderas. You can camp by the shore of the lagoon if you aren't afraid to spend the night in a real tropical jungle. It is never a good idea to climb Maderas without a guide because it is easy to get lost in the jungle.

You can't go to Nicaragua without getting to know Ometepe Island. One embarks for Ometepe from the Puerto de San Jorge, 3 miles from Rivas. Launches leave each day in the morning. Be careful, because the boats don't leave at the announced times, and they tend to sail earlier!.

Solentiname Archipelago
These precious virginal islands are found in the south of the Lake, near to Costa Rica. Ideal for playing Robinson Crusoe. A community of primitive painters is installed in the archipelago, whose portraits are internationally famous. The Island of Mancarón boasts a comfortable hotel. You can embark for Solentiname at San Carlos

Well, hopefully you found this information useful and interesting, and don't miss the opportunity to visit this lake if you ever travel Nicaragua.

Monteverde, incredible cloud forest in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a world famous travel destination for rain forest places, and there is a very good reason for that, the rain forest is just incredible. There are many options as for rain forest trips to Costa Rica. This time I would like to share with you a very special rain forest place: Monteverde.

This place is famous worldwide, Monteverde will get you to know how magnificent and beutiful mother nature can be. This place is some kind of perfect combination between adventure and beauty of the rain forest. This place is a must visit if you like adventure and if you are a rain forest fan.

Cloud forest in Monteverde is one of the most known places if you are into eco-tourism kind of vacations. This place is about 4700 feet above sea level, this area is one of the most interesting places to visit in Costa Rica. You can find here more than 100 species of mammal animals, including 5 species of felines, more than 400 species of birds, thousands of different insects, more than 2500 species of tropical plants. This area is supposed to be one of the best refuges of wild life in the tropic. And I don't have any doubt about that, once you get to take a look at it you can definitely be sure all this is true.

If you get to walk into this beautiful cloud forest, you fell like you're walking into a magnificent green Cathedral. You can see there are a lot of tall trees festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines, and mosses.

The variable climate has helped produce an extremely high biodiversity. Spectacular wildlife includes the Jaguar, Ocelot, Baird´s Tapir, Three-wattled Bellbird, Bare necked Umbrella bird and the famous elusive Resplendent Quetzal.

Let me give you a quick background on the History and Nature of this exotic place, these facts I found in a document I read some time ago:

In 1972 under the threat of homesteading in the surrounding rain forest, visiting scientists George Powell and his wife joined forces with long-time resident Wilford Guindon to promote the establishment of a nature preserve. The Tropical Science Center was receptive to these efforts and accepted institutional responsibility for ownership and management of the protected areas. An initial land purchase of 328 hectares formed the core of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Costa Rica.

In 1975 the 554-hectare community watershed reserve, founded in the mid-60s by members of the Quaker community and named Bosque Eterno S.A., was annexed under an administrative contract to the Preserve.After the Preserve's creation, the Tropical Science Center continued to secure the financial and human resources necessary to expand, consolidate, and properly protect and manage the non-profit Rainforest Preserve's current 10,500 hectares.

The region lays claim to some of the best-kept cloud forest in the entire country and is a paradise for bird watchers. Several nature preserves have sprung up to make sure this stays the case. Because of the beauty of the area, it is only natural that Monteverde has become a major part of the Costa Rican tourist trail - despite the poor roads leading up to and through it. This being a cloud forest of course one has to count with the possibility of continuous fog and/or light rain

The main attraction is "Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde" at the Southeastern end to the East of Monteverde proper, which is an enormous nature reserve. But usually only the area around the park entrance is visited. There are trails further inland though, where one can also stay overnight on platforms in the trees. It is even possible to cross the entire park to the Arenal Volcano, though this needs good planning and for those who are not used to jungle trekking it is advisable to go with a guide. If only because they tend to spot much more and will point out animals that one would likely never have spotted. Of course this also goes for other nature areas here and elsewhere (provided the guides are experienced, which they generally are here).

To the West of Monteverde proper lies the "Bosque Eterno de los Niños", a project in which schoolchildren from all over the world protect this area that is not really in the cloud forest and therefore better for some animal-observations. Guided night-walks can be done here.

Farther North, nearer Santa Elena, are a butterfly garden, a serpentarium and a ranarium (frogs). Still farther north, past Santa Elena, is the Reserva Santa Elena. Nearby one can do the Sky Walk, with seven suspension bridges (see photo), some as long as 300 m. This is a unique opportunity to see the forest from a completely different angle; from above.

A less tranquil way to go through the forest (not for nature lovers but for thrill seekers) is the Sky Trek in which one zips through, and occasionally above, the forest along cables. The Monteverde Canopy Tour is similar to this. Or the exciting Aventura Canopy Tour with the famous Tarzan Swing Aventura Canopy

Apart from all this there are many other, less official, tracks, such as the one up Cerro Amigos, where there are radio masts (the operators of which may be happy to meet someone - it's lonely up there).

Other activities include horse riding and mountain biking. There is some controversy over these activities since they make the tracks unusable for hikers. The horse riding tours have been attacked for abuse of the animals, but have responded by enforcing satisfactory humane practices. But in recent years this has improved.

Well, I hope you liked what I have shared with you about this beautiful place. If you ever travel Costa Rica you already know that this is a very interesting place to visit.

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